Sunday, March 20, 2011

Visitation Rights

Well, we all survived my parent's visit this weekend, or I should say, they survived us. Maybe just barely. They arrived late Thursday night. Big K wasn't able to wait, which is fine, since he had school the next morning. Little Man looked out the window every 2 minutes and asked, "Are they here yet?" So everything started out well...and then went downhill from there.

I'm always excited about them coming up and we try to plan, over the phone, the different things we can do. But, by the end of the visit, I'm experiencing a mixture of anger, stress and disappointment. Not at my parents, at my children.

I don't know what happens. Is it the excitement of having more people in the house?  Maybe because we do things that are out of the ordinary, like shopping, going out to eat, getting the boys' haircut? Suddenly, the boys that I think are not perfect, but at least manageable, have become the mini monsters that are normally the children of those other parents which upon seeing, make me feel better about my parenting skills.

But within minutes, I have become THAT parent.

You may know what I'm talking about. THAT parent that dares to take their children to a semi-nice restaurant, like Olive Garden, and after spending a mere 15 minutes in the same waiting area with them, you pray to God that they are seated on the other side of the restaurant from you. Those children that insist on holding the little light-up thing that lets you know when you're table's ready and then proceed to drop it so many times, you're guessing that they'll never get a table because the thing is busted. You also feel sorry for the next person who handles the gadget, because you've witnessed the devise being licked...more than once. And what's with that kid's oral sensation anyway? He's got his fingers in his mouth and even licked the wall behind the bench that they're sitting on. And why does that parent even allow the kid take up precious space on the coveted seating bench when he spends more time under it than on it? At least the staff won't have to work so hard sweeping. By the time they're seated, the fight begins. THAT parent who spends more time fetching complimentary crayons from underneath the table, the one who plasters a fake smile on her face for the benefit of anyone looking their way (which they all are, because the children are screeching about who stole the crayon from the other.) THAT parent who's voice has become more and more strained between clenched teeth when one child complains that this is, "not what he ordered," and he's "not going to eat it," even though it looks just liked the picture he pointed to. The child is now seated with his back to the table and arms crossed in front of chest as he refuses to eat the best dinner he's had in a month and that his grandparents have graciously paid for. It's THAT parent who also orders the largest drink at the table.

I've become THAT parent, whose kids suddenly have this innate knowledge that they are able to do things they don't usually do...namely play video games, without their mother going ballistic on them. (It doesn't help that dad has found his own hiding place in the bedroom, where the video games are.) So now my mother is under the impression that this is ALL THEY DO. I do admit that they play more than they should, but why did they decide that this was marathon weekend? I've listened to my mother's subtle (and not so subtle) hints about the dangers of too much TV/video game time, including seizures, ADD and child obesity. She tries to be light about it...yeah, not really. I know all these things are true and try to assure her that yes, they do play with blocks, cars, action figures and occasionally draw.

I'm THAT parent that is actually excited about driving the grandparents to any store they would like to go to because A) You finally get a chance to be away from the kids and B) my mother pays for an update in my ten year old wardrobe that wouldn't be feasibly possible in the next 6 months, because you lost your job, and although I feel completely guilty about it..I SO needed some clothes. I'm THAT parent who will make two separate trips to Great Clips, because they have also offered to pay for haircuts for one boy who has pictures next week and another who needs the stylist to "fix" dad's last attempt at a home haircut for the same aforementioned reason. Humbling to say the least.

I'm THAT parent who, even AFTER the events at Olive Garden, agree to take the kids out to breakfast, because I apparently think things will be different. They aren't. Now, they just involve maple syrup. At least the waiting time was much shorter. But now I have become THAT parent who must now deprive themselves of any dignity whatsoever, and open the door to the men's room, check for any occupants, and grab their kid off of the sink to whisk him back to the table, to force him to eat more than three bites of the ginormous pancake with a banana smile and strawberry eyes that he insisted on ordering. Pancakes in a to-go box just don't work.

I'm THAT parent who must continually assure my dad that it is not the connection from the DVD player to the TV that isn't working, but the actual DVD player itself. He's just trying to be helpful, but we know our quirky outlets and the dang thing was working just two days ago. THAT parent who must constantly shush they kids or send them into another room (to play video games, I'm sure) so that we can actually hear what's happening in the movie. THAT parent who may fill their wine glass more than is sociably acceptable.

I'm THAT parent who mentally smacks herself in the head when her husband is the first one to compliment grammie on her weight loss, because I was so busy dealing with the kids, I noticed and forgot to say something.

I'm also THAT parent, who, on the morning of their departure, must drag both kids from the bedroom (still playing video games) to say goodbye to their all-too-generous grandparents. The one who feels guilt and shame, because I want to believe that they understand that games are games and grandparents don't last forever. THAT parent who stands alone, waving goodbye in the driveway, feeling like schmuck, because I am alone, waving goodbye.

But as I am waving goodbye, I also realize that I am THAT parent that cherishes every moment that I am able to have another adult to talk to, no matter how briefly, about my kids' problems and know that the answers come from someone who knows my children almost as well as I do. I'm THAT parent who looked over and saw her mother hiding the same laugh when Little Man yelled, "Leave me alone Kaiden, you little...TWIT!" THAT parent who is amazed when her husband contributes to conversation over coffee, because it reminds me that he can be insightful and humorous at the same time. He told the kids if they were good, maybe, just maybe, they could have TWO weeks at grammie's instead of ONE this summer.

I'm THAT parent who knows, that even though they may not show it at the time, my kids love their grammie and papa, look forward to their visits and talk about the things they did with them after they leave. I'm THAT parent who knows life is short and I must memorize every moment, no matter how difficult it may be at times. I'm THAT parent who is exhausted at the end of the visit, but still wishes it could be just a few days longer...


  1. It's hard to be THAT and THAT parent, isn't it? I find myself being THAT parent who's frazzled to my core, but if I allow myself to take a moment, I realize how grateful I am. I'm glad you're able to see beyond the mishaps and really be THAT parent.

  2. I'm THAT parent too. Visits are always hectic over here too.

  3. So, you've been to my house when my parents visit haven't you?? You've been THAT fly on the wall haven't you? Because you just wrote what I do!! I am going to my parents house in Florida in April with the kids - their house is immaculate and well, I love them both but when we arrive I become THAT parent and the kids, they become THOSE kids..... mixed emotions about the whole thing....